Second Life, an online virtual world, was hit over the weekend with a virtual virus—dubbed “grey goo”—that inserted self-replicating objects into the world and caused it to experience slowed server performance, SecurityFocus.com reports.
Second Life users create virtual representations of themselves, or avatars, which can interact with each other in user-created environments. Linden dollars (L$), the form of currency in the virtual world, can be purchased with real money and used to obtain virtual land, goods and services, among other options.
The self-replicating objects appeared in the form of golden rings, which are meant to be a reference to the golden rings from Sega’s popular Sonic the Hedgehog video game, according to a number of posts on Second Life forums, SecurityFocus.com reports.
The objects put extra strain on the website’s servers, according to SecurityFocus.com, slowing performance and frustrating many site users.
Linden Labs, the San Francisco, Calif., firm behind Second Life, disabled the site on Sunday to remove all traces of the virus from its database, and the site was up and running again a few hours later, according to SecurityFocus.com.
A Linden Labs statement posted around 1:30 p.m. PST on Sunday reads, “We are investigating reports of failed teleports, faulty L$ balances, and clothing not appearing. The problem seems to be tied to heavy load on the database.”
Another post from 2 p.m. PST that day reads, “After some work on the databases it appears that everything is back to normal. We’ll continue to keep an eye on things. Thanks for your patience.”
The incident marks the third time since September that the Second Life site has been crippled by digital objects that rapidly reproduce within the virtual world, SecurityFocus.com reports.
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